Inside the Imagination of Guillermo del Toro

A walk through the macabre, fascinating mind of one of Hollywood's most revered filmmakers.

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Guillermo Del Toro

When Guillermo del Toro makes his mark on a film, there is an unmistakable sign of his signature touch which inevitably lifts the movie in question to fascinating new heights.

After first making his film debut with the gory 1993 vampire flick Cronos, the Mexican director took his budding mastery to new levels in Mimic, Blade 2, and the Hellboy series, where he first began to stretch his most creative muscles. Employing the use of actors Federico Luppi and Ron Pearlman throughout his early films, Guillermo hit a performance sweet spot with his actors that would prove mutually beneficial, resulting in a casting loyalty that delights fans with each new release.

For 2001's The Devil's Backbone, del Toro was determined to bring new dimension to the thriller genre with a horror tale set during the 1939 Spanish Civil War. Complexly interwoven plotlines mix the supernatural with tales of political persecution, war, death and greed. Widely considered a cinematic masterpiece, del Toro’s combination of horror, drama and fantasy remains an underappreciated gem to this day.

With action-overload comic-book adaptations in shorthand after the Hellboy films, del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth—about a girl who invents an elaborate fantasy world in fascist, 1944 Spain—was a major force in cementing the director as a massive force in the industry. With a downright chilling vision for the macabre, del Toro developed the idea for the Pan-like creature in the extraordinary Spanish film Pan's Labyrinth based on what he calls a moment of lucid dreaming as a child. He imagined seeing a faun, a human hand and a goat leg. Then there's his recurrent nightmare of zombies chasing him up flights of stairs, eager to taste his brains.

Prime fertile soil for a nightmarish otherworldly cinescape? You bet. Written and directed by del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth was also noteworthy for its use of location as a character within itself – a signature trick of the director's. Nominated for an Oscar in 2007 for Best Foreign Film, among five other nominations. It did win three Academy Awards for Best Make-Up, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction – all core conceptions from the mind of Guillermo.

In del Toro's supernatural thriller The Strain, the filmmaker's dark imagination turned its gaze towards vampires – but those looking for a taste of the sparkly, effeminate Twilight bloodsuckers will be left in the dust of these horrifically alien descendants of Dracula. Unsatisfied with standard lore, Guillermo abandoned the age-old idea of vampires as gothic, decadent romantic heroes. They His don't have fangs. Instead long, sharp stingers erupt out of their mouths, slicing a victim's jugular and paralyzing them them as they're sucked dry of blood.

Keeping his horror blades sharp, del Toro penned the 2011 film Don't Be Afraid of The Dark with Matthew Robbins – a tale of goblin fairies that added deeper fangs to the 1973 ABC made-for-television source material. Guillermo chose Troy Nixey to direct the film after seeing Nixey' short filmLatchkey’s Lament, recognizing the filmmaker's knack for the macabre. The result was a fantastic adaptation

While never steering too far from the horror/thriller genres, del Toro has his sights set on what will undoubtedly be the most significant set of films of his career: The Hobbit. Guillermo The Hobbit is an upcoming two-part epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson. The two parts, titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are being filmed back to back and are in production in New Zealand as prequels of sorts to the legendary mega-smash Lord of The Rings film trilogy.

In April 2008, Guillermo del Toro was hired to direct the film, and through the course of nearly infinite rewrites and production delays, he was forced to step down as director. His chief collaborator Peter Jackson is at the helm, with del Toro remaining on as screenwriter. His touch will undoubtedly mark the world of The Hobbit in unique and magnificent ways, and 2013 – the planned release for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – can't arrive soon enough!